[Taxacom] flattened primate nails and early feathers (and teleology)

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Fri Jan 12 10:13:55 CST 2018


Ken, If an outcome drives evolution then it is certainly teleological
(don't have the original email anymore so maybe I was mistaken here). When
functions are used to 'explain' form then it is teleological. If function
does not explain a form then it is irrelevant to whether the initial
function of features was 'for' (the inherent teleology of the English
language) anything or nothing at all. Who cares what functionality there
was in terms of explaining the form if it does not explain? Such imagned
functions only 'explain' possible functional consequences of a form. Such
consequences give no additional insight into the form itself. For example,
whether dinosaur feathers operated functionally (or dysfunctionally :) in
flight, insulation, mate display etc. says nothing about the origin of the
form of the feather and the fact that the feather is structurally composite
arranged in a manner that appears to conform to a 2/5 symmetry (none of
that should be surprising given the comparable composite origin of the
mammalian ear).

John Grehan

On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:53 AM, Kenneth Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Dear All,
>
>       With regard to my P.S., I don't see how using the phrase "drove the
> evolutionary transition" is all that teleological.  If I had suggested that
> claws evolved into flattened nails to achieve a goal (in order to become a
> better grasper of tree limbs), that would be teleological, although not
> nearly as blatant as babies shaped like footballs.
>
>        Some researchers had proposed that flattened nails evolved along
> with increasing body size, but the discovery in 2011 of such nails in tiny
> fossil 6-inch primates (genus Teilhardina) seems to show such flattening
> preceded increases in body size.  It is similar to the discovery that the
> function of feathers initially involved something other than flight.
> Whether that initial function was for insulation or display or something
> else is still being debated.
>
>        I still believe that early feathers could have begun on dinosaur
> tails (sort of like those found in later, E. Cretaceous fossils of
> Psittacosaurus).  A display function could have been slowly exapted into
> insulatory functions as they spread to the rump (insulation to help keep
> eggs warm) and then body insulation in general.  Notice that I use the word
> exapted (not pre-adapted, which some might regard as teleological).
> Anyway, the initial display function could have been a sexual display, but
> I still think an even earlier display function could have served a sort of
> predator evasion function (either confusing the predator or at least
> attracting it to a less vital part of the body, the tail).  Just imagine a
> small Kentrosaurus-like dinosaur (tiny head), but instead of spines on the
> tail, just a bunch of proto-feathers (at the end of the tail) that looks
> more like a head than the actual head does.
>
> Kentrosaurus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentrosaurus#/media/File:
> Kentrosaurus_NT.jpg
>
>                         -------------------Ken
>
> ________________________________
> From: John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 8:45 PM
> To: Kenneth Kinman
> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] human eyes & ectoparasites
>
> When Ken says "but it is not clear what actually drove the evolutionary
> transition from claws to nails.  It could be something involved in grasping
> and locomotion in trees." the real question is whether anything 'dives' a
> particular transition. Again the appeal and mysticism of teleology is once
> again evident and it is what keeps evolution outside science.
>
> John Grehan
>
> [https://ipmcdn.avast.com/images/icons/icon-envelope-
> tick-round-orange-animated-no-repeat-v1.gif]<https://www.
> avast.com/sig-email?utm_medium=email&utm_source=link&
> utm_campaign=sig-email&utm_content=webmail&utm_term=icon>    Virus-free.
> www.avast.com<https://www.avast.com/sig-email?utm_
> medium=email&utm_source=link&utm_campaign=sig-email&utm_
> content=webmail&utm_term=link>
>
> On Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 9:07 PM, Kenneth Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com
> <mailto:kinman at hotmail.com>> wrote:
> Hi Derek,
>
>        I see that Furtive Fauna was published over 20 years ago.  I
> suspect the reason you have never run across that hypothesis before is that
> it probably didn't have much going for it and it just faded away.  Having
> good near-vision probably came first, and that later enabled them to become
> better ectoparasite groomers (not the other way around).  It's a bit like
> saying birds developed feathers in order to fly, but we now know feathers
> probably first evolved for insulation (although I have suggested a possible
> even earlier advantage of feathers if they first evolved on the tail and
> that  may have helped bird's dinosaur ancestors in predator evasion, i.e.
> please attack my attractive but expendable tail, rather than my head).
>
>        And I can't see any "obvious consequences" for the origin of
> written language or civilization.  I don't think there was anything
> particularly tiny about the earliest written words, numbers or characters.
> Not nearly as tiny as lice or fleas.
>
>                ----------------Ken
>
> P.S.  Having flattened nails (instead of claws like other mammals) seems
> to also make primates better ectoparasite groomers, but it is not clear
> what actually drove the evolutionary transition from claws to nails.  It
> could be something involved in grasping and locomotion in trees.
>
> ________________________________
> From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-bounces@
> mailman.nhm.ku.edu>> on behalf of Derek Sikes <dssikes at alaska.edu<mailto:
> dssikes at alaska.edu>>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 11:22 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Subject: [Taxacom] human eyes & ectoparasites
>
> All,
>
> I was just reading Roger Knutson's 'Furtive Fauna' in which was an
> interesting hypothesis I hadn't come across before and wonder if anyone
> knows more about it.
>
> Our ability to see small things close up (such as text) resulted from
> generations of ectoparasite grooming. Had our distant ape ancestors not had
> to deal with ectoparasites our eyes might not be very good at near-vision
> (with obvious consequences for the origin of written language and rise of
> civilization).
>
> Knutson stated it factually, but the book has no in-text citations and it's
> not clear where he got the idea.
>
> I don't know much about the near-vision ability of vertebrates to know how
> likely this hypothesis is. Do non-grooming mammals have poor near-vision?
>
> I'm always looking for ways to explain to entomology students how the world
> might be different if arthropods hadn't dominated it, and this might be
> another example.
>
> Interested to hear other's thoughts on this.
>
> Thanks,
> Derek
>
>
> --
>
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> Derek S. Sikes, Curator of Insects
> Associate Professor of Entomology
> University of Alaska Museum
> 1962 Yukon Drive
> Fairbanks, AK   99775-6960
>
> dssikes at alaska.edu<mailto:dssikes at alaska.edu>
>
> phone: 907-474-6278<tel:907-474-6278>
> FAX: 907-474-5469<tel:907-474-5469>
>
> University of Alaska Museum  -  search 395,696 digitized arthropod records
> http://arctos.database.museum/uam_ento_all
> <http://www.uaf.edu/museum/collections/ento/>
> Entomology | Museum<http://www.uaf.edu/museum/collections/ento/>
> www.uaf.edu<http://www.uaf.edu>
> Overview Welcome to the University of Alaska Museum Insect Collection. The
> collection was established as part of a NSF - funded Arctic Archival
> Observatory grant in ...
>
>
>
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>
> Interested in Alaskan Entomology? Join the Alaska Entomological
> Society and / or sign up for the email listserv "Alaska Entomological
> Network" at
> http://www.akentsoc.org/contact_us <http://www.akentsoc.org/contact.php>
> [https://s0.wp.com/i/blank.jpg]<http://www.akentsoc.org/contact_us>
>
> Contact | Alaska Entomological Society<http://www.akentsoc.org/contact_us>
> www.akentsoc.org<http://www.akentsoc.org>
> Alaska Entomology Network. Currently, the best way to get in touch with
> the entomological community in Alaska is to subscribe to the Alaska
> Entomology Network e-mail ...
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>,
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> Taxacom Info Page - mailman.nhm.ku.edu<http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu> Mailing
> Lists<http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom>
> mailman.nhm.ku.edu<http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Taxacom is an e-mail list for biological systematics. Named and brought to
> life by Drs. Richard Zander and Patricia Eckel, Taxacom began its
> peripatetic existence on ...
>
>
>
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
> [http://taxacom.markmail.org/images/ml-logo.png]<http://
> taxacom.markmail.org/>
>
> Taxacom Home - MarkMail - Community libraries<http://taxacom.markmail.org/
> >
> taxacom.markmail.org<http://taxacom.markmail.org>
> MarkMail is developed and hosted by MarkLogic Corporation. MarkMail is a
> free service for searching mailing list archives, with huge advantages over
> traditional ...
>
>
>
>
> Send Taxacom mailing list submissions to taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<
> mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the Web, visit:
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> Taxacom Info Page - mailman.nhm.ku.edu<http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu> Mailing
> Lists<http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom>
> mailman.nhm.ku.edu<http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Taxacom is an e-mail list for biological systematics. Named and brought to
> life by Drs. Richard Zander and Patricia Eckel, Taxacom began its
> peripatetic existence on ...
>
>
>
> You can reach the person managing the list at:
> taxacom-owner at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-owner at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>
> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 31 Some Years, 1987-2018.
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>,
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
>
> Send Taxacom mailing list submissions to taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<
> mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the Web, visit:
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> You can reach the person managing the list at:
> taxacom-owner at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-owner at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>
> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 31 Some Years, 1987-2018.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu,
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
>
> Send Taxacom mailing list submissions to taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the Web, visit:
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> You can reach the person managing the list at:
> taxacom-owner at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>
> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 31 Some Years, 1987-2018.
>


More information about the Taxacom mailing list